The video game online store wars are officially in full swing, with Discord announcing Friday morning that it is opening up its online store with 90% of all revenue going to gamer makers starting in 2019.
The news comes on the heels of Epic Games own announcement last week that it was launching the Epic Games Store, with 88% of all revenue going to developers. That news hit a week before Valve announced a shift in its own revenue share split with developers getting 70% to 80% of earnings.
Discord’s news Friday morning came in an open letter entitled “Why not 90/10?” from Jason Citron, CEO and founder of the online chat service. In it, he noted that more than 200 million people have used the service to chat and play games with their friends since its launch four years ago. He also noted that the service has helped bring developers and their fans closer together. Then he dove into the topic of online game stores.
“Earlier this year though, we noticed a change happening in the game industry. We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30% of the usual 70/30 revenue share,” he wrote. “Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what’s really important — making great games and cultivating amazing communities.”
Citron asked in the letter why a developer should pay so much to a store and theorized it’s why so many publishers are creating their own stores.
“Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018,” he wrote. “After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share.
To that end, Citron writes, in 2019 Discord will be extending access to the Discord store and its game patcher by releasing a “self-serve game publishing platform.”
“No matter what size, from AAA to single person teams, developers will be able to self publish on the Discord store with 90% revenue share going to the developer,” he wrote. “The remaining 10% covers our operating costs, and we’ll explore lowering it by optimizing our tech and making things more efficient.
“We will also empower developers to communicate with their players by improving Verified Servers, extending their ability to add great content to the Activity Feed, and more. We believe if we iterate and work with developers, we can reverse platform fragmentation in the game industry while connecting developers and players closer together.”
Citron wrapped up by saying Discord will still focus on improving voice, video, and text chat.
“We’re constantly working on making Discord better, faster, stronger, and we have a slew of features coming out in the next couple weeks to months,” he wrote.
Discord has had a big year. The company rolled out a number of major upgrades and expansions, including overhauling the Discord overlay, evolving the Nitro subscription service to include free games, launching an activity feed and the beta for an online store.
While an increasing number of publishers have started creating their own online stores and launchers — Blizzard/Activision, Ubisoft, and EA among others — the most significant changes in online gaming commerce will likely be driven by the brewing battle between Steam, Epic Games Store and Discord’s store, all of which are committed to selling games from a variety of developers, not just their own products.
Revenue share is a significant element of how developers decide where to sell, it’s not the only thing they look at. Other important factors include built-in audience, support, digital rights management, discoverability, refund policies and a slew of other behind the scenes elements.